Food & Drink

Esquire's Essential Crab List That Will Keep You Cracking

From home-cooked to high-brow to down-to-earth, we give you the ultimate purveyors of these coveted claws.
IMAGE Instagram - East Ocean Palace / Majoy Siason
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The human love affair with crab started as far back as prehistoric times. Archeologists have found evidence in the Eritrean coast (yes, we Googled this) that early tools were used to harvest shallow marine mollusks and crustaceans, including crabs.

Until the present, crab is prized for its unique flesh that is flaky, moderately briny, and sweet. Ensconced in its tough shell, consuming entails an ancient, primeval ritual that involves breaking that stony exterior— either with a mallet or the more modern cracker— to get to the prized meat within. Preparation can be as simple as boiling or steaming, or made elaborate by complex reductions and sauces. Sounds easy enough, really, but we prefer to leave it to these experts.

Made at Home

Ley’s Kitchen

Entrepreneur Angel See Ley must be on every hostess-with-the-mostest’s speed dial in case the menu calls for decadent seafood. Her bestselling Coconut Curry Crabs and Black Pepper Crabs, among many other variants, put her home-based business on the culinary map. When Manila’s well-heeled set wants crab in dense, flavorful sauces they want to lick off their manicured fingers, Ley is the one they call.

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For orders, text or call 0917-848-6889.

China Mommy

Mild-mannered mommy Linda Co burst onto the food scene last year with her homemade Filipino-Chinese delicacies such as her festive cha misua and tofu-skin wrapped fortune bags. She launched her crab meat-stuffed fortune bags before the holiday season. But, for those who want serious meat, she also has crab in special sauce, Thai curry, and over sotanghon.

Send @chinamommyph a DM on Instagram, or order through 0917-514-8540.

Take Home Chef

The food tray and event carts business of enterprising chef John Cu-Unjieng and wife, Michelle, offer, among others, his classic Thanh Long crab. It was a bestseller in Chef John’s now-defunct restaurant, Perico. This 90’s hit has made a comeback due to popular demand and is best accompanied by those tasty garlic noodles.

Call or message 0917-533-1371 for orders.

Casual Dining

Blue Posts Boiling Crabs and Shrimp

IMAGE: Blue Post's Boiling Crabs' Facebook Page
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The Davao original has made its way to mainstream Manila, thanks to its relaxed southern  sensibility and flavorful sauces. Diners can choose from Cajun-style, garlic fried, sambal, garlic lemon butter, and salted egg sauce. Spicy or not, and adorned with corn, sausages, and potatoes.

Branches at SM North Edsa, Greenhills, and CCP Complex, Pasay

Clawdaddy’s

This BGC eatery has the look of an American seafood shack but offers mostly Asian flavors when it comes to the popular crustaceans. Alongside it’s oysters Rockefeller and clam chowder are exotic crab preparations such as Typhoon shelter crab, Crab Maritess, Szechuan chili crab, and Singapura Crab.

Bonifacio High Street, BGC, Taguig

Dampa Macapagal

IMAGE: Jason Mariposa
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The price here definitely cannot be beat. Buy your crabs from your suki then proceed to one of the paluto restaurants nearby. SIS and Aling Tonya’s are old-school favorites; Super Wok and Royal Kitchen have their own cult following; while Hong Kong Master Cook always delivers the Cantonese classics.

Macapagal Avenue, Libertad, Pasay City

Bag O’ Shrimps

IMAGE: Bag O' Shrimp's Facebook Page
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As the name implies, the seafood here is boiled in a bag of savory sauce. The crabs are cooked in the same method as shrimp, clams, or mussels- simply choose a sauce, level of spice, and add-ons. The casual interiors reassure diners that it’s ok to dig-in and get dirty.

Branches in McKinley Hill, Kapitolyo, SM Megamall, and BF Homes, Parañaque

The Red Crab

This old-timer offers fourteen different crab preparations, so guests are truly spoiled for choice. We’re guessing if it’s named after someone, it must be special. So we would definitely go for the Crab Maritess (simmered in garlic and white wine), Crab Alvarez (coconut cream sauce infused with turmeric), Fidel’s Pepper Crab, and Raymund’s Salt and Pepper Crab.

Branches in Greenbelt 3, Resorts World Manila, Shangri-La Plaza, Tomas Morato, and Eastwood Mall

Special Occasion

East Ocean Palace

Robert See of Century Seafood has resurrected his popular Greenhills establishment and is now located near the shiny new casinos at Pasay. The palatial Chinese restaurant prepares its crabs in the traditional ways: steamed, deep-fried with salt and pepper or in a salted egg batter, the usual. But, with See and his chefs at the helm, you can expect excellence.

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Aseana Business Park, Bradco Avenue, Entertainment City, Parañaque

Ministry of Crab

IMAGE: Majoy Siason

The Sri Lankan import was able to replicated the Dutch colonial charm of the original Ministry of Crab at the prime space meant for a club at Shangri-la at the Fort. The restaurant refuses to freeze its seafood, therefore crabs are sourced from Philippine waters. While it has dishes exclusive to the Philippines to please local palates, its black pepper crab and baked crab are must-tries.

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Shangri-La at the Fort, BGC, Taguig

Gloria Maris Shark’s Fin Restaurant

For Filipino-Chinese families in the Greenhills and New Manila area (and beyond), this remains to be a reliable favorite for celebrations and get-togethers. While shark’s fin is no longer a favorite, the Szechuan chili crab and fried crab with black beans are still a popular—and definitely more sustainable—draw.

Lifestyle Arcade, Greenhills Shopping Center, San Juan City

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About The Author
Jaclyn Clemente Koppe
Chinkee writes and eats for a living. By living, she means cake. Or steak. When she's not eating, she's running her own blog-shop, OneBigBite.com.
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